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Reports: Ohio, UAB to meet in the 2017 Bahamas Bowl

Both teams will arrive on the island with 8-4 records and a litany of potential storylines.

NCAA Football: Texas El Paso at Alabama-Birmingham Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

We know of at least one bowl game the Mid-American Conference will partake in, thanks to the logistics involved in making the Bahamas Bowl work.

The Ohio Bobcats (8-4, 5-3 MAC) will take on the UAB Blazers (8-4, 6-2 Conference USA) in Nassau for the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, per Brett McMurphy.

The Bobcats are coming off two consecutive losses to MAC East foes Akron and Buffalo, which put them out of the running for a MAC East title and a trip to Detroit, but they still have a lot to prove in the postseason.

Nathan Rourke will lead Ohio offensively, as his current mark of rushing touchdowns (21) is best amongst quarterbacks at the FBS level and second overall to FAU running back Devin Singletary (26.) On defense, it will be Quentin Poling anchoring the defense in his final game of eligibility.

Frank Solich has managed once again to steer the Bobcats to a bowl game for the eighth time in ten years, an unbelievable achievement considering Ohio only reached two bowls in team history prior to his hiring in 2005. The Bobcats will be looking for their first bowl win since the 2012 Independence Bowl.

UAB finished the season on a hot streak, winning four of its last five games to contend for a bowl bid, nearly winning the C-USA East division in the process. However, the season doesn’t start and end there.

UAB’s football program was famously shut down on Dec. 2, 2014 by the Alabama Board of Trustees, citing financial concerns. The city of Birmingham rallied around the program and exerted enough pressure and even some outside backing in the form of a proposed outdoor practice facility and stadium to reinstate the program to play in academic year 2017.

They’ve shattered every single expectation since taking the field against Alabama A&M to start the season, finishing 8-4 in a year where many prognosticators projected the Blazers to finish as the worst team in FBS play.

True freshman running back Spencer Brown has lead the way for the Blazers in this miraculous season, rushing for 1,292 yards on 237 carries, scoring 10 times on the ground. MTSU transfer AJ Erdley leads the way at quarterback, passing for 2,077 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season, averaging a 61.77% completion rating. Collin Lisa, who transferred to MAC member Buffalo after the UAB shutdown, is once again featured on the UAB roster.

Linebacker Shaq Jones and cornerback A.C. Williams are feature ames to watch for on defense.

Bill Clark, who stayed on as football coach despite the shutdown, is a finalist for the Coach of the Year Award and has been seen as one of the more underrated coaching prospects and emerging minds in collegiate football. A master motivator and keen recruiter, Clark has found many diamonds in the rough over the past few recruiting cycles.

That will make for an interesting matchup on the sidelines, as Clark will line up against the old-school Solich, who famously guided the Nebraska Cornhuskers as the successor to Tom Osburne from 1998-2003, leading the Huskers to multiple division and conference titles.

UAB seeks its first bowl win in program history, going 0-1 on its lone bowl game attempt, a 59-40 loss to Hawai’i in the 2004 Hawai’i Bowl.

These are the first bowl bids awarded thus far for the MAC and C-USA, respectively, as both conferences will have to sweat it out to see if all their teams find homes for bowl bids. The MAC has six remaining, while C-USA will have nine.

The game is set for Friday, Dec. 22 at 12:30 p.m. EST and will be played at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau. Last year’s game featured Eastern Michigan and Old Dominion, with the Monarchs taking the victory by a final score of 24-20.

The game, which shares at-large ties with the MAC and C-USA, has been 2-1 in favor of C-USA thus far, with Western Michigan as the MAC’s lone win.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN with a TBD crew.